Park is coming off back-to-back wins, including the LPGA Championship in a playoff, to widen her lead at No. 1 in the world.
The toughest test in women's golf would figure to be a piece of cake for the No. 1 player in the world.
She already had six wins, and the LPGA Tour season was barely at the halfway point. She stamped her dominance by winning the first two majors of the year. The gap between her and the next best player was even larger than what Tiger Woods enjoyed in men's golf. Her swing was reliable. And she had the experience as a past U.S. Women's Open champion. If she had a weakness, it wasn't apparent.
A third straight major almost seemed inevitable.
But it didn't work out that way in 2005 for Annika Sorenstam. She tried to ignore a month of hype only for jangled nerves to join her on the first tee at Cherry Hills. She was behind from the opening round, and the harder she tried, the farther behind she fell.
"It was a lot of pressure," Sorenstam recalled last week about her bid for the Grand Slam. "I wanted to not necessarily ignore it, but I was trying to not let it get to me. I wanted to just focus. It's another major. It's the U.S. Open, and at the time, I had won two before. And I thought, 'I can do this.'"
She can appreciate better than most what Inbee Park faces this week.
The 24-year-old South Korean didn't win the first two majors as convincingly as Sorenstam did in 2005, but she won them. Park is coming off back-to-back wins, including the LPGA Championship in a playoff, to widen her lead at No. 1 in the world. She won the Women's Open just five years ago at Interlachen.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how Inbee handles this," Sorenstam said. "She has the major experience and she's the No. 1 player in the world, so she's not necessarily brand new in this role. ... We'll see how she handles Sebonack and the conditions that await."
Sorenstam didn't make it clear if she was talking about external conditions — such as wind coming off Atlantic waters on Long Island — or whatever emotions are roiling inside Park.
The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Sebonack Golf Club, and Park is the latest to challenge history.
Sorenstam was only the most recent player who tried — and failed — to win three straight majors to start out the season.
Woods had a chance in 2002 until he was blown away by the wind, cold and rain of Muirfield on Saturday of the British Open. Pat Bradley was going for three straight in 1986, but she shot 76 in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open and never caught up. Jack Nicklaus was on the verge of winning three straight majors in 1972 until Lee Trevino beat him at Muirfield. Arnold Palmer, who created the modern version of the Grand Slam in 1960, lost out by a shot to Kel Nagle that year at St. Andrews.
The last player to start the season by winning three straight majors was Babe Zaharias in 1950, back when the LPGA Tour only had three majors. Ben Hogan won all three he could play in 1953, when the PGA Championship was held at the same time as British Open qualifying.
It's different now.
Sorenstam said of Park, "I've been in her shoes," but only as it relates to her bid to win three straight majors. Sorenstam was going after the Grand Slam in 2005. The LPGA Tour now counts the Evian Masters, which gives it five majors. Trouble is, a grand slam only scores four runs. Or as Jeff Sluman so famously said in 2003, "When you go to Denny's and order the Grand Slam breakfast, they don't give you five things, do they? They give you four."
What do you call winning five majors in one year? That's a question Park would love to have someone answer.
The next stop is Sebonack, whether nothing figures to be easy — not the course, not the competition, not the pressure.
"I think there is no way that you won't feel the pressure," Park said Tuesday. "Because you will always feel the pressure. But it's just the more you experience it, you just feel it a little less and less over the time. Now when I'm in the position where I am, and when I'm in the winning position — and I've been there a lot — it's just knowing what I have to do. I think that's been a big help for me."
|Houston||12/5/13 7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Miami||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||12/8/13 3:05 PM|
|St. Louis||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|NY Giants||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Carolina||12/8/13 7:30 PM|
|Dallas||12/9/13 7:40 PM|
|Denver||73||4th Qtr 11:22|
|LA Clippers||44||3rd Qtr 10:20|
|Dallas||43||2nd Qtr 4:01|
|Detroit||33||2nd Qtr 5:45|
|Phoenix||38||2nd Qtr 5:00|
|San Antonio||8:30 PM|
|Oklahoma City||9:00 PM|
|Montreal||1||2nd Prd :54|
|Brewton-Parker||56||2nd Half 3:55|
|West Va Tech||74||2nd Half 2:23|
|Valparaiso||66||2nd Half 1:17|
|Western Carolina||67||2nd Half 0:44|
|South Florida||59||2nd Half 4:25|
|Rutgers||67||2nd Half 4:40|
|No Greenville||66||2nd Half 3:42|
|Richmond||71||2nd Half 0:30|
|William & Mary||60|
|Central Conn St||65|
|Wisconsin||48||2nd Half 0:38|
|Wofford||61||2nd Half 1:09|
|Maine||68||2nd Half 1:08|
|Marist||74||2nd Half 0:30|
|Maryland||58||2nd Half 1:53|
|UMBC||76||2nd Half 1:19|
|UMKC||50||2nd Half 5:05|
|Binghamton||69||2nd Half 0:19|
|Mount St Marys||65|
|Harvard||69||2nd Half 1:10|
|Albany||51||2nd Half 4:16|
|Lehigh||57||2nd Half 0:04|
|Furman||48||2nd Half 0:35|
|Hartford||55||2nd Half 3:50|
|Davidson||68||2nd Half 6:09|
|Detroit||73||2nd Half 3:02|
|Fair-Dickinson||60||2nd Half 0:29|
|Citadel||65||2nd Half 1:47|
|Cleveland State||57||2nd Half 0:28|
|Central Penn College||70||2nd Half 2:07|
|Catholic||48||2nd Half 13:20|
|Bryant||57||2nd Half 7:46|
|Bucknell||53||2nd Half 5:59|
|Louisiana||54||2nd Half 15:44|
|Howard||17||2nd Half 15:59|
|Northwestern||32||2nd Half 8:23|
|Robert Morris||46||2nd Half 15:23|
|Huston-Tillotson||22||1st Half 0:01|
|North Florida||21||1st Half 0:24|
|Saint Josephs||34||2nd Half|
|Penn||24||1st Half 2:53|
|Morehead State||25||2nd Half|
|St Edwards||32||2nd Half|
|East Tenn St||44||2nd Half|
|Eastern Ill||17||2nd Half|
|Dakota State||29||2nd Half|
|South Dakota St||45|
|Chicago State||30||2nd Half|
|Texas Southern||32||2nd Half|
|IUPUI||9||1st Half 13:55|
|Rice||12||1st Half 10:39|
|New Mexico||8:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|North Carolina||8:00 PM|
|Boston College||8:00 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton||9:00 PM|
|(19) Louisville||12/5/13 6:30 PM|
|Bowling Green||12/6/13 7:00 PM|
|(16) Northern Ill|
|(15) UCF||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(18) Oklahoma||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(6) Oklahoma State|
|Marshall||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|Memphis||12/7/13 12:00 PM|
|(23) Texas||12/7/13 2:30 PM|
|(5) Missouri||12/7/13 3:00 PM|
|So Florida||12/7/13 6:30 PM|
|(7) Stanford||12/7/13 6:45 PM|
|(11) Arizona State|
|(20) Duke||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Louisiana||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(2) Ohio State||12/7/13 7:17 PM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|Utah State||12/7/13 9:00 PM|
|(24) Fresno State|
|(15) Nebraska||30||2nd Half|
|(18) North Carolina||40|
|Samford||33||2nd Half 0:17|
|St Francis-PA||68||2nd Half 3:45|
|Hartford||49||2nd Half 0:53|
|Ohio State||55||2nd Half 0:57|
|Murray State||66||2nd Half 0:08|
|Michigan State||55||2nd Half 0:15|
|Illinois||62||2nd Half 1:31|
|Boston U||60||2nd Half 4:11|
|Tennessee St||66||2nd Half 0:01|
|Rutgers||67||2nd Half 0:05|
|South Florida||55||2nd Half 0:01|
|Fla Gulf Coast||60|
|Southern Ill||36||2nd Half 10:48|
|SE Missouri St||55|
|Western Ill||55||2nd Half 10:34|
|(4) Notre Dame||48||2nd Half 16:08|
|(10) Penn State||31|
|Stephen F Austin||28||2nd Half|
|Ark-Little Rock||10||2nd Half|
|Northern Iowa||26||2nd Half|
|(20) Iowa State||43|
|Arkansas||29||1st Half 1:21|
|SE Louisiana||17||2nd Half|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||22||1st Half 0:01|
|Eastern Michigan||38||2nd Half|
|Florida||51||1st Half 1:56|
|Louisiana||27||1st Half 0:05|
|Oral Roberts||28||2nd Half|
|North Texas||17||1st Half 10:29|
|(11) Colorado||8:00 PM|
|San Diego||9:00 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|